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Offley Turn Back Time

 OSCC, 216-6, beat Old Minchendenians, 147 all out, by 69 runs

Offley turned back the clock in dramatic fashion to hammer top-of-the-table Old Minchendians by 69 runs on Saturday.

On a day for the old stagers Steve Bexfield scored his first 50 since 2016, a mortally hungover Mark Tattersall hammered an unbeaten 43, Steve Denton reeled off eight miserly overs, Dan Goord (admittedly not of the same vintage as the others but it's been a fucking long time since he demonstrated any ability with the bat) made 44 not out and Richie Barker effectively settled the outcome of the contest with an age-defying, sanctifying, electrifying, glorifying catch when he was too slow to get out of the way of a rocket at mid on and to widespread amazement clung on.

In the finest recent tradition of Offley captains a hungover Josh Scott (not as hungover as the other Captain Scott but impressively wankered nonetheless) won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat. He was rewarded with a century stand for the first wicket between Bexfield and Josh Hook.

Bexfield was initially slow to get into his stride, consistently playing and missing outside off stump, his bat invariably carving at fresh air in a different time zone to the ball.

Hook was far more fluent from the outset, registering his first runs with his new bat after last week's blob, before Bexfield got into his stride with three boundaries in an over.

The runs gradually began to flow from both ends and at drinks Offley still had 10 wickets in hand and were contemplating a score of 250. 

Bexfield seemed to be distracted by the drinks interval when he discovered scorer Jamie Cummins had mislaid three of his runs. "Who's been doing the book?" Bexfield demanded in the same indignant tone he has employed down the years from Totternhoe to Totnes.

Considering this was the first time in a week the crippled Cummins had been able to leave the house due to the ankle injury sustained while single-handedly kicking the shit out of the Huddersfield Firm, this seemed slightly churlish.

Hook was the first to bring up his 50 and seemed set to push on to three figures before he inexplicably attempted something agricultural and had his stumps rearranged. He walked off muttering something optimistic about backing the middle order....

Bexfield reached his landmark a few overs later and celebrated in style. It was the first time he had made a half-century since 2016.

The world has changed since then. 

The United Kingdom has left the European Union.  

Covid has cast its shadow across the globe.

Liverpool have lost two Champions League Finals to Real Madrid.

Vladimir Putin has exceeded all reasonable levels of cuntishness.

And, perhaps most tragically and poignantly of all, Bexfield and erstwhile best friend Colin Keeley are estranged from one another.

He failed to add to his tally before missing with a big legside hack that triggered the third dramatic collapse in as many games.

Steve Owen advanced down the wicket to his first ball with the confident air of a man who has read and understood the instructions and knows exactly what is required. 

Unfortunately the instructions were in the wrong language and he failed to read the turn and was cleaned up without troubling the scorers. 

Ben Wiles chipped to midwicket for a single, Hassan Shah launched one prodigious blow over the boundary but sent the next ball into orbit and was caught by the keeper before Captain Scott registered a second ball duck after top-edging a sweep.

Tattersall joined a skittish Goord who had nearly popped up a couple of catches and had already come close to running out Owen, Shah and Scott - which was a fucking top effort considering they lasted seven balls between them.....

Tattersall, sporting the waistline, unkempt beard and hangover that Santa would be proud of on Boxing Day, opted for some early reconnaissance before reaching for his trusty seven iron and laying about him to great effect. 

Goord, who had registered three ducks in four previous innings, eased into proceedings before reeling off some impressive shots as Offley upped the tempo in the closing stages to post a total of 216-6.

It was a good score, rather than a match-defining one and the visitors fancied their chances after posting three wins in their first three matches. 

Wiles announced his presence with the first ball of the innings as he nearly decapitated the opposition opener, the batsman subsequently showing no great desire to get on the front foot. Despite that he played some pleasant shots before Wiles angled one back to hit off stump.

At the other end Ali Shah was bowling to good effect. Despite surrendering some early boundaries he plugged away, gaining his reward by bowling the other opener to make it 37-2.

It might have been 37-3 next ball but a very good shout for LBW was turned down by the umpire, much to the bowler's dismay.

The dismay increased markedly next ball when the ball disappeared somewhere in the direction of Breechwood Green.

Denton looked to have made the next breakthrough when he coaxed a slice into the safe hands of the ever-reliable Owen at point. 

It wasn't easy and took a determined effort but Owen somehow managed to bungle the chance.

Fortunately it wasn't costly as Ali dismissed the batsman in the next over from a similar shot that was held at point by Scott.

Denton got his reward shortly afterwards by jagging a ball past the inside edge and Ali claimed his third wicket with the final ball of his spell when a tasty offering was smeared to Wiles at midwicket.

Tattersall almost got in on the act when he found the leading edge and the ball looped into the air to give the bowler an easy catch or the fielder at cover, Goord, an easier one. 

Tattersall left it for Goord. 

Goord left it for Tattersall. 

The ball dropped safely to earth but fortunately the batsman decided it was such a shit shot that he deserved to be out and gave Goord the chance to run him out by about six feet.

At that point the visitors were six down and apparently doomed.

Ten overs later they were still six down and looking rather less doomed as the partnership for the seventh wicket more than doubled the score. Ali and Denton were bowled out, Tattersall and Barker were leaking runs like a fucked fridge on a July day in Alabama and there was the sense that the game might yet slip away.

After seeing some of his more conventional efforts pumped to the boundary Tattersall decided the moment had come to resort to the tried and tested full toss.

The ball was duly hammered towards deep mid on, apparently destined for another boundary.

To widespread disbelief, not least from the fielder himself who couldn't move quickly enough to get out of the way of the sodding thing, Barker threw himself dramatically (obviously) to his left like Madonna falling off the stage and plucked the ball out of the air, the Red Kite moving as gracefully and elegantly as the Red Kite that soars and swoops over the ground.

After that the end came swiftly. Barker claimed the eighth and ninth wickets before the denoument arrived in slightly farcical circumstances. 

The ball was sliced away towards the third man boundary where Tattersall went chugging around the rope like the little engine that didn't have much chance.

One batsman thought there was the chance for 3, the other was happy to settle for 2. The result was one ran 2 1/2, t'other managed 1 1/2 before they ended up having a discussion in the middle as Tattersall's throw arrived in Hook's gloves to settle the outcome.

The final result flattered Offley slightly but helped even their record at two wins and two losses ahead of next week's trip to bottom club Old Cholmelians. 

This might not be the time to note that of late Offley's record in the Saracens League against the bottom clubs has been beyond abysmal over the past couple of years but for the moment there is every reason to believe that Captain Scott's intrepid band can inflict a fifth successive defeat on next week's opponents and maintain their surge up the league.


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